Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Turkish escapade and the secret is in the room-service

So... we're back from our Turkish escapade

Four flights in four and a half days was pretty ambitious but it was well worth it and the Turkish hospitality and love of children helped a lot.

It was really fantastic to be able to pop by* Izmir and enjoy coffee or lunch with friends and walk the city centre again. It sort of felt as if I'd never left -except for Emma and other new babes of course -living proofs that time has gone by. It's hard to believe it has been nearly 2 years since I was there!!
The other "reminder" were the really nice developments in the city including the brand new Swissotel Grand Efes with its beautiful gardens, pool and terraces and some lovely new shops and parks.

Ah, the lovely cafés, terraces and sun. Ah, the böreks, gözleme, and manti... I have missed you.

As soon as we landed in Izmir, Emma was right in her element, receiving balloons from the hotel staff who played with her every chance they got.
We also discovered a side to Izmir I had no interest for at the time we were there: colorful childrens' parks in cool shade.
The fact that we were staying right in the centre made things much easier and Emma had mid-day siesta's after her lunch and got to bed on-time despite us running out to coffee, lunch or the park in between. It was really nice and I am so happy we did it.

I've decided that taking a break at a place you know offers the best of both worlds ; you get the feeling of familiarity and although it's a holiday you also get the benefit of knowing your way around and having friends to spend time with. As far as I'm concerned, those are huge advantages when traveling with a toddler and making stays so short as we tend to do. Another significant advantage was the fact that we weren't staying in our own home/with friends/family. More on that later.

Istanbul was fun too, but the terrible traffic** put a damper on it for me. On Friday evening, we spent more time in jam from Ataturk airport to the Ritz Carlton than we did flying in from Izmir! A metro running under the Bosphorus is due to be completed in 2010 but locals seem to think that you would need at least ten of those to make a real difference in traffic.

On Saturday morning we went for a stroll around Taksim and for a walk in Bebek along the shores of the Bosphorus in the afternoon. After a short stop in the children's park, we wanted to have a coffee in quaint Ortaköy, but the bumper to bumper traffic totally put us off stopping there on our way back to the hotel.

On Sunday morning, we enjoyed a yummy hotel breakfast then strolled through Taksim and enjoyed a quick lunch at the House café in Tünel before heading back to the hotel.

Amazing how life, and travel in particular, with an infant or toddler is dictated by meal/nap/bed-times, isn't it? If you try to stick to them, that is. It's a very personal choice, but I always do my utmost to respect Emma's routine 'cause she is so much happier - hence so are we - when she is rested and properly fed. Nothing new there, but there was a bit of a revelation for me during this trip perhaps because it was a first since Emma was born : room service is absolutely brilliant! Even more so when you have kids. I thought we'd miss going out in the evenings trying to keep with Emma's bedtimes but instead it ended up being a plus.

(in case you hadn't noticed, this is no longer a post about Istanbul or Izmir or friends... but if you're a Mom you might want to read on)

Because the tiring thing about kids, is not the kids. It's trying to shop, cook, do the dishes, clean, tidy, change sheets, do/hang/fold/iron laundry, shower,
be inspired, have a social life, make time and mental space and find the energy for partner/friends, answer emails, do the paperwork, go to the doctor/dentist/ophtalmologist, school/playdate find parking (I could go on forever, but you know the drill) all the while your little one is yelling, hiding things in cupboards, banging on the door, jumping on the bed, calling out your name mantra-like, pulling at your leg, pinching your thigh etc. and then finding the energy to play. That's what tires me.

I loved getting back to the hotel and just calling up room service to order dinner and then playing with Emma until it arrived, bouncing the balloons off my head with various sound effects making her giggle to tears. It was so much fun! After dinner, calling in-room dining for them to pick up the trolly while I settled Emma down in her pyjamas and sang her songs was just as relaxing.
No "what shall I cook tonight?" no rushed shopping, cooking washing up in-between the singing, playing, pampering, feeding, before the bathing, playing, changing, singing etc. No trying-to-do-it-all-at-once-is-making-me-feel-exhausted -and-inefficient-and-in-a-moment-I-am-going-to-become-very-impatient.
Instead, looking forward to a meal while being able to be 100% available and then a full tummy and inspiration and energy. Pause, sigh. The good life.

Can you believe Emma is enjoying in-room dining at the Ritz-Carlton and she is not even two?
In case you're wondering she is eating onion soup! and our room had sealed windows!!!

Now Emma has an eye infection and my sinuses are killing me so we'll enjoy each others company full time -without the room-service- for a few more days until she's healthy enough to go back to kindergarden .

A learning? If it's getting to be too much and you're going to blow a fuse: Stop trying to do it all, serve yourself a drink and chips (get some healthy-ish aperitif snack out for your toddler if you must) and play while you wait for the water to boil and make penne with you favorite Ricotta speciale sauce and serve strawberry yogurt for desert. The laundry can wait and everyone will go to bed happier.

*we stayed a total of about 30 hours arriving Thursday morning and departing Friday early evening

** with a population of nearly 20 million and huge amount of cars!


Anonymous said...

Dear Sandra,
You choose the exact words (as usual) to describe motherhood ! I adore Femke but it sometimes is VERY TOUGH AND TIRING BEING A MOTHER! Oprah Winfrey always says in her shows it is the most important and hardest job in the world. After 3 weeks of travelling I am so happy to be home though and pick up both our routines.
See you perhaps this Summer in Vienna ( I plan to visit Eva in Italy and might drop by in Vienna as well)...Xxxx

Sandra said...

Welcome home Mer! Definitely try to stop by Vienna if you can. It would be lovely to see you and Femke ;-)

J. said...

I absolutely know what you mean by routines! We always travel with Ollie, but keeping a schedule is so key to his/our sanity. (And, yes, agreed! Hotel room service is awesome. We stayed near Taksim as well, but I'm blanking on the hotel...)